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Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs

The healthcare industry is one of the largest sectors of the American economy. By 2024, it is expected to employ over 20 million people, more than is expected in retail, professional, and business services, or leisure and hospitality [i].  That could mean potential opportunities for anyone looking to pursue a healthcare career in doctor’s offices, hospitals, clinics, or any other health-related workplace. And if you’re worried that you’ll need to get an MD to jumpstart a career in this field, fear not. There are potentially many types of career paths to pursue in the health industry for people of different educational levels and backgrounds [ii]. One option you may want to consider is looking into Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs.

Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs

What is a Medical/Dental Assistant?

As you might be able to tell from the title, Medical Assistants generally help with various medical or medical-related tasks. Possibly under the direction of a doctor, assistants may perform administrative duties like scheduling appointments, keeping medical records, or billing patients. They may also take on some clinical responsibilities, such as recording vital signs, preparing patients for exams, administering medications, or drawing blood. [iii]

In 2015, Medical Assistants earned a median salary of $30,590. [iv]Of the more than 18 million workers in the health care and social assistance industry sector,   591,000 were Medical Assistants. This number, though, is expected to grow at a much faster rate than the average occupation, with 262,100 projected job openings between 2014 and 2024. [iv]

Why Consider Attending Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs?

Unlike for some other medical professions, pursuing a career as a Medical Assistant may not normally require a Master’s or Doctorate Degree, though medical assistants typically graduate from postsecondary education programs.  In fact, according to a poll by O*Net, 18% of Medical Assistants had an associate’s degree, 10% only had a high school diploma or equivalent, but the majority, or 65%, had earned a post-secondary certificate.  Although there are no formal educational requirements for becoming a medical assistant in most states, employers may prefer to hire assistants who have completed these programs.[vi]

So, what exactly is an online Medical Assistant Certificate? Similar to a degree, a certificate may be earned after completing a set course of study at the undergraduate or graduate level. Typically, certificate programs may be shorter and more narrowly focused than degree programs, often geared toward helping to prepare students to pursue a specific career, such as in the case of Online Medical Assistant Certificate Programs, medical assisting.

One way a program might do this is by helping students get ready to take a certification exam. While the words look similar, a certification may not be the same as a certificate. Certifications, instead of being issued by the school or educational institution, might be awarded by professional organizations as proof that someone may be knowledgeable in that profession. [vi]  Usually, this could entail passing an exam, such as the Certified Medical Assistant exam offered by the American Association of Medical Assistants. [viii]

If you want to pursue a career as a medical assistant, you might consider earning one or more of these types of certification. Though the standards for hire of medical assistants may vary among employers and states, a professional certification might help indicate your qualifications to employers. [vi]

Keep in Mind: While schools may help prepare you to take a certification exam, this may not be the only requirement to earning a certification. Check with the school and with the certifying organization to see if you’ll need to meet other demands like work experience or a background check

Earning a Medical Assistant Certificate  

So now that you know how Medical Assistant Certificate Programs might help you pursue a career in medical assisting, you’ll probably want to know what it could take to earn your certificate. As mentioned above, certificate programs might generally be shorter than degree programs. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean online medical assistant certificate programs would be any less challenging, and certificates may demand quite a lot of coursework.

What might be covered in all that coursework? Generally, you may expect a mix of clinical and administrative classes, ranging from subjects like Office Management to Pharmacology. Other classes might be on topics such as Anatomy and Physiology, Diseases, or Medical Coding.

Since Medical Assisting may sometimes be a hands-on profession, online coursework may also be supplemented by work experience, possibly in the form of an externship.  

Next Step

If you’re eager to get started, check out the sponsored listings for Online Medical Assisting Certificate Programs here on eLearners.com. To find out more, feel free to reach out to any school to request detailed information about their programs. 


[i]bls.gov/emp/ep_table_201.htm [ii]bls.gov/oes/current/oes_stru.htm#31-0000 [iii]onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00 [iv]onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00 [v]bls.gov/emp/ep_table_201.htm [vi]bls.gov/ooh/healthcare/medical-assistants.htm#tab-4 [vii]onetonline.org/link/summary/31-9092.00 [viii]aama-ntl.org/cma-aama-exam/about#.VzYW0YQrJhE [ix]kaplanuniversity.edu/health-sciences/medical-assistant-certificate.aspx [x]kaplanuniversity.edu/health-sciences/medical-assistant-certificate.aspx

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